Amnesty will take country forward

Amnesty will take country forward

 

THE decision by Prime Minister PakalithaMosisili to declare a general amnesty for alleged mutineers and other soldiers implicated in murder and treason is perhaps the right thing to do under the current circumstances.

In our opinion it could be the only way to take this country forward.

Mosisili argues that a general amnesty would create conditions for peace, stability, new hope and pave way for reconciliation.

It could also infuse fresh positive energy for the country that has gone through a traumatic two years since the events of August 30, 2014.

We agree.

Unless Lesotho declares a general amnesty it risks being stuck in a cycle of constant conflict, much to the detriment of the country.

It would be tempting to start haggling on who should be covered under the amnesty. Should it cover the alleged mutineers only or should it extend to Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) officers who are also accused of murder and treason?

That is not an easy discussion given the toxic nature of our politics. In our opinion, there could be ample reason to extend a general amnesty for all officers and allow this country to move forward.

Admittedly, a general amnesty on its own would not solve the basic underlying issues that have put us where we are. The problems are much broader and are steeped in Lesotho’s turbulent past.

The proposed security sector reforms must deal with issues of this nature.

While calling for a general amnesty, Mosisili has hinted at the need to balance such an approach with justice. In that vein he argues that “care must be exercised so that an amnesty does not engender impunity”.

We also agree.

Mosisili said the argument that those implicated in the killing of Mahao must have their day in court is equally compelling.

We are happy that Mosisili has already hinted that the police are now working flat out to investigate the circumstances leading to the killing of Mahao.

How much that investigation shall come up with will largely depend on whether the police would have been capacitated by the government to carry out their investigations unimpeded.

It is common knowledge that Lesotho has been under tremendous pressure, particularly from the Americans, on how it deals with the Mahao case. The international community is closely watching how the government deals with this investigation.

To declare a blanket amnesty for Mahao’s killers would therefore send the wrong signal on the issue of rule of law and accountability. A full investigation would reinforce our standing as a nation that respects the rule of law.

Mosisili has said he regrets the killing of Mahao. While no amount of compensation would cover the loss, the government should now move swiftly to appease the family.

A candid discussion with the family on the issue of compensation should begin immediately. The family of Mahao must not be exposed to further economic hardship.

This should also cover every Mosotho who has died under controversial circumstances at the hands of the army.

While one may not agree with all of Mosisili’s responses, there is clear evidence that he has provided a basis for discussion to take this country forward.

We also note his statement that the government has begun discussions with LDF commander Lieutenant General TlaliKamoli to come up with a “mutually agreeable” solution on his exit.

At its meeting next week, SADC must nudge Lesotho towards dialogue to resolve what are undoubtedly complex issues.

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